A report into Evangelicals in the UK, including Northern Ireland, has just been published by Evangelical Alliance and Christian Research.
17,000 people took part in churches and decidedly evangelical Christian festivals. A further number of reports are planned.I hope later ones get to explore some theological issues around the gospel and atonement for example.
The following stats are based on those who self-identified as evangelicals.
I suspect these are ‘good’ figures for evangelical belief drawn from a sample of active, committed evangelicals.
David Bebbington’s ubiquitous quadrilateral of evangelical characteristics are CRUCICENTRISM, BIBLICISM, ACTIVISM AND CONVERSIONISM. At one level, there is a strong level of agreement around these sorts of markers:
91% believe that Jesus is the only way to God
96% attend a church service at least once a week
82% read or listen to the Bible at least a few times a week (yet only 38% of those from 16-44 read it daily compared with 69% of those over 65)
93% strongly agree that the Bible is the inspired word of God (with 54% strongly agreeing it is ‘without error in its original manuscript’. That last phrase throws in two big ‘asks’ – inerrancy, which has never been as strongly held in the UK as in the USA, and the rather complicated notion that the (long extinct) original manuscripts of the OT and NT were without error but errors may have crept in through scribal transmission. So it’s not surprising that there is a big difference between these two figures).
88% say that their faith is the most important thing in their life and 83% that their faith shapes their decision making
94% agree that Christians should be united in truth, and 92% that they should be united in mission.
76 % pray alone daily
71% strongly agreed that it is a Christian’s duty to be involved in evangelism. (The older you are the less evangelism you do – 77% of those 16-24 yr olds talk to someone about their faith at least once a month, compared to 51% of those over 65).
Other areas of where there is a general consensus or clear majority of views include:
Only 18% strongly believe that evolution and Christianity are incompatible. 8% agree a little, 18% unsure, 20% disagree a little and 39% disagree strongly.
51% are strongly egalitarians, believing in equal roles for men and women in ministry, with a further 20% agreeing a little. 9% are unsure with 10% disagreeing a little and only 10% disagreeing strongly (presumably being convinced ‘complementarians’).
59% strongly agree that homosexual actions are wrong, with a further 14% agreeing a little. 11% unsure with only 16% disagreeing either a lot or a little (that small figure of 16% is why I put this finding among areas where there is a general consensus.
Also, interesting is how marginal cessationism is within evangelicalism. 83% strongly agree that miracles and spiritual gifts did not come to an end in NT times.
Also striking is how 94% say it is a Christian’s duty to care for the environment
But beyond these issues there is considerably less agreement or more diversity (whichever way you prefer to put it).
I’m starting these figures with ‘only’ because each represents a major shift in traditional evangelical positions:
Only 62% strongly agreed that sex outside marriage is wrong. The figures are not broken down here on age, but presumably more liberal attitudes are found among younger evangelicals.
Only 42% strongly agreed that assisted suicide is always wrong.
Only 20% strongly agree that abortion can never be justified, 17% agree a little, 18% unsure, and 45% disagreeing strongly or a little.
Only 37% strongly agreed that hell is a place of eternal conscious punishment, with a further 13% disagreeing a little. 31% unsure, with 19% disagreeing a lot or a little.
Only 6 out of 10 give 10% of income to church and other charities. But 75% of those over 65 do, compared to 53% of those 25-34.
Only 67% of 16-24 yr olds would self-identify as evangelicals, compared to 87% of those over 65.
Which of these findings strikes you? Any surprises – especially compared to where you live if in the USA or in Ireland?
I’m struck by the strength of egalitarian evangelicalism in the UK – I don’t think Ireland would come near these figures. That is a surprisingly overwhelming number. The report doesn’t give the stats but says that it is younger self-identifying evangelicals who are markedly (at least 13% divergence from the average) the most resistant to egalitarianism. Wow.
I’d like to see more research on the abortion issue. I wonder if there would be a very different set of numbers if the question had been ‘Do you agree that abortion is a civil right?’ or something similar.
Evangelical attitudes to ‘sex only within marriage’ are being revolutionised in ways that sit in seeming contradiction to the 93% that say the Bible is the inspired Word of God. It ain’t hard to interpret the Bible’s teaching on this one but there is a 30% gap there.
I’m also struck by how there is over a 2 to 1 ratio of those able to accept evolution as against those who reject it. I’d be interested to know how those figures would work out in Ireland.